By Benjamin Skipper
Lindt has recently announced the arrival of two new entries into their Excellence lineup, 70% Cocoa Nut Crunch (walnuts) and 70% Cocoa Almond Brittle. I was excited to see both of them at my local Target, but unfortunately only the almond brittle bar is qualified for review, as the walnut variety has the dreaded "artificial flavorings" listed in its ingredients. Lindt generates mixed feelings for me given the mixed quality of their products. Their 85% and 90% dark varieties are great, and I've been dying to get my hands on their 99% bar which I just can't find, but by and large their extensive product line contains artificial ingredients which are just unpalatable to my dietary guidelines. I guess we'll just have to enjoy what values there are. Please note, however, that the almond brittle bar contains glucose syrup derived from wheat, so it's possibly not gluten-free.
I'm particularly impressed with it. The bar looks immaculate in its precise uniformity free of any bumps from the brittle or chips off the surface, and you can't see the brittle integrated unless you break in to look at the gradient. It has a smudgy shine and no snap, but the mouthfeel has the wonderful complexity of being liquid smooth and incredibly crispy at the same time. The scent is very strong with toasted nuts and sweet caramel, and the flavor is a dance of nuts intermingled with notes of caramel and a surprisingly fruity chocolate, slightly stronger at the finish. The sweetness made the back of my mouth ache a little bit, being a smidgen too high, but it's not too bad. Overall it defied my expectations and pleased me.
I guess in viewing Lindt as overly using artificial stuff I had established the prejudice that it was a poor quality chocolatier, leading to mixed expectations in coming to taste this. My prejudice is duly uprooted. However, despite how pleasing the experience was, the sweetness is something that doesn't motivate me to keep coming back for more, so I'll probably only eat this once and consider it satisfying in bringing new experiences.
I know it's comparing apples and oranges, but given the similarity I found myself immediately thinking of Endangered Species' 72% Coexist toffee pieces and concluding that I would much prefer the buttery and saltiness of that over the brittle. I still recommend this Lindt variety, but I view it more as a one-time thing. The toffee is my preference.